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Ultrasonography is beginning to play an increasingly important role in breast cancer evaluation.  While mammography is typically the best method of breast cancer screening, ultrasonography can be used to diagnose breast cancer.  If a lump is felt or a mass is suspected, an ultrasound can be used to determine if the mass is a fluid filled cyst or a solid mass.  Though ultrasonography is not as accurate in detecting smaller breast cancers, for some patients, ultrasonography may be a preferable evaluation technique to mammography. 

Differences Between Ultrasonography and Mammography

Mammography uses radiation, while ultrasonography does not.  Young women, who are at risk of developing breast cancer, may prefer ultrasonography to mammography in evaluating breast disease since younger women are more susceptible to damage from radiation. 

Mammograms are usually unable to detect breast masses in women with denser breasts.  Ultrasonography is useful in detecting early stage breast cancer in dense-breasted women with smaller cancers hidden by milk duct tissue on a mammography. 

Women who have smaller breasts may also benefit more from ultrasonography evaluation.  The outer boundaries of smaller breasts are difficult to image by mammography.  Many women find mammography painful, especially those with smaller breasts or fibrocystic conditions.  The preferable method of evaluation is ultrasonography for many of these women. 

A highly qualified and skilled practitioner using state-of-the art equipment must perform ultrasonography.  In general, mammography is the standard and preferred screening method for breast cancer.  If you would like to learn more about the drawbacks and benefits to ultrasonography, you may wish to discuss the procedure in greater detail with a qualified health care professional.